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Poem by James Russell Lowell


Music


                   I.

  I seem to lie with drooping eyes,
    Dreaming sweet dreams,
  Half longings and half memories,
    In woods where streams
  With trembling shades and whirling gleams,
    Many and bright,
    In song and light,
    Are ever, ever flowing;
  While the wind, if we list to the rustling grass,
  Which numbers his footsteps as they pass,
    Seems scarcely to be blowing;
  And the far-heard voice of Spring,
  From sunny slopes comes wandering,
  Calling the violets from the sleep,
  That bound them under snow-drifts deep,
  To open their childlike, asking eyes
  On the new summer's paradise,
  And mingled with the gurgling waters--
  As the dreamy witchery
  Of Acheloüs' silver-voiced daughters
    Rose and fell with the heaving sea,
    Whose great heart swelled with ecstasy--
  The song of many a floating bird,
    Winding through the rifted trees,
  Is dreamily half-heard--
  A sister stream of melodies
  Rippled by the flutterings
  Of rapture-quivered wings.


                  II.

  And now beside a cataract
  I lie, and through my soul,
  From over me and under,
  The never-ceasing thunder
  Arousingly doth roll;
  Through the darkness all compact,
  Through the trackless sea of gloom,
  Sad and deep I hear it boom;
  At intervals the cloud is cracked
  And a livid flash doth hiss
    Downward from its floating home,
  Lighting up the precipice
    And the never-resting foam
  With a dim and ghastly glare,
  Which, for a heart-beat, in the air,
    Shows the sweeping shrouds
    Of the midnight clouds
  And their wildly-scattered hair.


                 III.

  Now listening to a woman's tone,
  In a wood I sit alone--
  Alone because our souls are one;--
  All around my heart it flows,
  Lulling me in deep repose;
  I fear to speak, I fear to move,
  Lest I should break the spell I love--
  Low and gentle, calm and clear,
  Into my inmost soul it goes,
    As if my brother dear,
    Who is no longer here,
    Had bended from the sky
    And murmured in my ear
  A strain of that high harmony,
    Which they may sing alone
    Who worship round the throne.


                  IV.

  Now in a fairy boat,
    On the bright waves of song,
    Full merrily I float,
    Merrily float along;
    My helm is veered, I care not how,
    My white sail bellies over me,
  And bright as gold the ripples be
  That plash beneath the bow;
    Before, behind,
    They feel the wind,
    And they are dancing joyously--
  While, faintly heard, along the far-off shore
  The surf goes plunging with a lingering roar;
    Or anchored in a shadowy cove,
      Entranced with harmonies,
      Slowly I sink and rise
    As the slow waves of music move.


                   V.

  Now softly dashing,
  Bubbling, plashing,
  Mazy, dreamy,
  Faint and streamy,
  Ripples into ripples melt,
  Not so strongly heard as felt;
  Now rapid and quick,
  While the heart beats thick,
  The music silver wavelets crowd,
  Distinct and clear, but never loud
  And now all solemnly and slow,
  In mild, deep tones they warble low,
  Like the glad song of angels, when
  They sang good will and peace to men;
  Now faintly heard and far,
    As if the spirit's ears
  Had caught the anthem of a star
    Chanting with his brother-spheres
  In the midnight dark and deep,
  When the body is asleep
  And wondrous shadows pour in streams
  From the twofold gate of dreams;
  Now onward roll the billows, swelling
  With a tempest-sound of might,
  As of voices doom foretelling
    To the silent ear of Night;
  And now a mingled ecstasy
    Of all sweet sounds it is;--
  O! who may tell the agony
    Of rapture such as this?


                  VI.

  I have drunk of the drink of immortals,
    I have drunk of the life-giving wine,
  And now I may pass the bright portals
    That open into a realm divine!
  I have drunk it through mine ears
    In the ecstasy of song,
  When mine eyes would fill with tears
    That its life were not more long;
  I have drunk it through mine eyes
    In beauty's every shape,
  And now around my soul it lies,
    No juice of earthly grape!
  Wings! wings are given to me,
    I can flutter, I can rise,
  Like a new life gushing through me
    Sweep the heavenly harmonies!



James Russell Lowell


James Russell Lowell's other poems:
  1. Song (What reck I of the stars, when I)
  2. Hakon's Lay
  3. In Sadness
  4. To E. W. G.
  5. Ianthe


Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Percy Shelley Music ("I pant for the music which is divine")
  • Wilfred Owen Music ("I have been urged by earnest violins")
  • William Bowles Music ("O harmony! thou tenderest nurse of pain")
  • Henry White Music ("Music, all powerful o'er the human mind")
  • John Cheney Music ("Take of the maiden's and the mother's sigh")
  • Amy Lowell Music ("The neighbour sits in his window and plays the flute")
  • Henry Van Dyke Music ("Daughter of Psyche, pledge of that last night")
  • Stephen Benet Music ("My friend went to the piano; spun the stool")

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